Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Using Incentives to Reform Prisons

In a new book, baseball stats geek, Bill James, proposes some prison reforms.
James also posits a way to reform prisons, which he dubs “violentocracies.” His proposal: smaller facilities that house no more than 24 inmates and are part of a larger, incentives-based system. At a Level 1 prison, for example, you get a lawyer, a Bible, and around-the-clock supervision; at Level 5, a cat and a coffee machine. At Level 10, you can earn a living and come and go with relative ease. The idea, James says, is not only to reduce the paranoia-fueled violence in large prisons but to encourage prisoners to work their way up the ladder.

Its all in the details though. Move far enough up the ladder and you may not want to leave. But move far enough up the ladder and the costs of your incarceration may be negative.

Hat tip Tyler Cowen

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